Seeking joy and meaning in a joyless mind and meaningless existence

Monday, August 24, 2020

Thought Journal

I had been seeing a counselor for several months, but she had to take an unanticipated medical leave. Blah Blah Blah "... for my physical health and safety ..." Blah Blah Blah (Take care and stay safe, T.!)

Anyway, I had my first Zoom with a new therapist last week, and she asked that I make a record of the symphony of negative thoughts that plays endlessly in my head. The following is a list of things that ran through my brain, representing a pretty typical week and often a typical day:
  • There is a near constant thrum of unhappiness casting a ubiquitous shadow over my mood that I have to fight against: there is nothing for me to enjoy, nothing to look forward to and no hope of achieving a fulfilling life. I just force myself to go through the motions to keep my life at its bare minimum status quo.
  • I feel imprisoned in my anhedonia, convinced that I will never find anything enjoyable ever again. I feel free-floating anxiety when something I’ve enjoyed is about to end because I’m sure there will never be anything else or at least I'm panicked to desperately find the next thing I might get some pleasure out of.
  • I’ll be doing all right and then the bottom drops out of my mood, especially when I end a task and try to transition to another, and I feel a vague panic that nothing is worth doing and I‘ll never enjoy anything again.
  • I’m frequently gripped by a powerful malaise where I find it impossible to do literally anything, even move. It takes all of my will to perform any action whatsoever and break out of this profound disinclination to activity.
  • I sometimes have an existential panic over the implications of consciousness and inevitably of death.
  • I have random crying fits over absolutely nothing and ridiculous things, such as during the happy ending of Zoolander 2, a silly comedy movie, and even Fred 3: Camp Fred, an even dumber movie I'm embarrassed to admit watching let alone crying over.
  • I have episodes of explosive rage over the smallest and most pedestrian setbacks and inconveniences.
  • I’m convinced that it’s too late for fulfillment. I sustained my hopes and dreams, the crux of my raison d’ ĂȘtre, in fantasies that propped me up and kept me going with false hope for for all those years I found my actual life unfulfilled, but now those hopes have flown as fulfillment seems impossible. I don't often indulge in fantasy anymore, but when I do, I can lose myself in my imagined reality for literally hours at a time.
  • I have a paralyzing fear of failure: What if I finally get it together to write, and no one wants to read or publish it? My entire life would truly, definitively be a waste.
  • I’ve tried so many times to make changes and told myself countless times, “This is it, a new beginning” that it feels foolish to ever tell myself that again. How can I ignore my own experience where I’ve failed to realize significant change?
  • I waste so much time, mental energy and will on just not doing things: drinking, spending money, overeating, pursuing ill-advised sexual activity. I wrestle with a constantly churning inner debate about making better choices, especially when I wonder why I bother when nothing seems to change regardless of the decisions I make. My experience belies a causal link between my behavior and how I feel or what goes on with me.
  • I have bouts where it's impossible to concentrate or perform higher mental functions. I'm often unable to face any complex or complicated task. I'm overwhelmed by what it would take to make real improvements in my life, especially organizing decades of notes, ideas and half-started writing projects.
  • I’m constantly disappointed that friends and families don’t fulfill my emotional needs or appreciate me in ways I crave, and I yet hate myself putting that burden on them, especially given my truly insatiable need that no one could ever fulfill. How have I fulfilled others' emotional needs?
  • I feel obsessive guilt over things I did or said or didn’t do or say, even with events that literally happened over 40 years ago. I can guilt myself into tears over those times I lost my patience with a couple of (now dead) cats and yelled at them, ignoring all of the times I was caring, extremely patient and providing a secure home. All that matters are the times I failed. Not all the times I didn’t or even went above and beyond. This is the same in my relationships with people as well.
  • No matter how hard I try to try, I’ll never be anything close to what I’ve always wanted to be since I was a child. And now it’s too late.